Cole Play: Jackson, Hughes Lead Mounties to Lax Title

By Stephen Sports
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The most potent offensive weapon in Massachusetts schoolboy lacrosse was an offensive footnote in his first ever sectional championship game.
And he could not have been happier.
Michael McCormack scored one goal -- a fourth-quarter insurance goal -- as the Mount Greylock Mounties earned a 7-4 win over Grafton on Friday night in the Central/Western Massachusetts Division 3 championship game at West Springfield High School.
Second-seeded Grafton (15-8) did a masterful job of playing help defense to support Thomas Flynn, who had the primary responsibility to mark the Mountie who earlier in the week set the commonwealth's season points record.
But Grafton could not account for Cole Jackson and Cole Hughes, who each scored twice to go along with tallies by Jonah Kelley and Sean McCormack ... and Sean's big brother, some guy named Mike.
"With me being shutoff, it was an opportunity for everyone to step up on offense, and everyone did step up, which was great," Michael McCormack said.
Mounties coach Brandon Asplundh was asked if he thought his team could win on a night when No. 24 was held to a single point.
"I would have thought we would have [won] just because we trust everyone we put out there," Asplundh said. "We knew they were going to focus on Michael. We didn't know they were going to do such a great job."
The other thing Grafton did a great job of: shortening the game.
Grafton played most of the game like a team with a three-goal lead and four minutes on the clock, patiently working the ball around the edges of the box while the clock wound down.
It ended up with 16 shots, but that number does not reflect the huge advantage in possession time compiled by the team in green.
"It puts a lot of pressure on the defense because we really can't do anything," Mount Greylock senior defender Nickolaus Santore said. "We were playing a zone, which is less aggressive than a man-to-man, so if they were just going to carry the ball around, there really wasn't anything we could do about it.
"It builds pressure on you because you want to get the ball to the offense so it can score. You can't win without scoring."
You also can't win a sectional title without strong play between the pipes, and that is just what Mount Greylock got from sophomore keeper Cal Filson. Filson stopped 12 shots for the Mounties (20-3).
"He's really stepped it up, especially in this Western Mass tournament," Santore said. "He's stopped a ton of shots. This game he played amazing.
"He's only a sophomore, but he's one of the leaders on the team, and he shows it on the field."
Mount Greylock never trailed on Friday night, but it also never led by more than a goal until the fourth quarter.
Jackson got things started by splitting the defense for a goal in the third minute, but Grafton's Hunter Fraser responded with the first of his three goals a minute later.
Mount Greylock took a 2-1 lead into half-time thanks to Sean McCormack's goal off a pass from Matt Malloy with 3:33 left in the second.
But a Mount Greylock penalty late in the half carried over to the third quarter, and Fraser scored a man-up goal to tie it 32 seconds into the second half.
Midway through the third, Kelley scored in transition, but Fraser answered again to make it 3-3.
With 3:10 left in the quarter, Jackson took the ball high on the right side, beat his man and went top shelf to give the Mounties a lead they never lost.
Hughes and Michael McCormack scored in the fourth to push the lead to 6-3 before Cole Fontana got Grafton back on the board. Hughes broke in from the left side and scored an unassisted goal with just more than a minute left to put the game out of reach.
In addition to the team scoring effort, Mount Greylock goes into next week's state tournament against the Central/East champion playing staunch defense.
"Our defense did an incredible job today," Asplundh said. "Holding Grafton to four goals is a huge accomplishment, especially when they had the ball so much. I couldn't be prouder of the way the defense played."
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